In a first for Auckland diocese, a hui for Catholic Māori in the diocese is to be held in November.
The hui, titled “Te Iwi Māori Katorika”, is to be held at Whaiora Marae in Otara on November 17-18. It aims to strengthen “Mana Māori” within the Church and the diocese and to “consider what leadership structure might be needed to develop this kaupapa”.
The hui will feature three presenters – Sr Tui Cadigan, RSM, (the chairperson of Te Rūnanga o te Hāhi Katorika ki Aotearoa), Deacon Danny Karatea Goddard (an advisor to the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference) and historian Professor Peter Lineham from Massey University.
They will describe the present situation of Māori in the Church and the challenges that lie ahead.
Speaking on behalf of the Diocesan Bicultural Committee for Auckland diocese, Fr Bernard Dennehy told NZ Catholic that “although the 1979 diocesan synod committed the diocese to promote a bicultural church and a bicultural society, there is little Māori participation in the structures of the diocese”.
So questions arise concerning Māori representation in the structures of the diocese, and the meaning of “Mana Māori” in the Church.
(Other members of the bicultural committee are Robert Newson, Susan Healy, Rangi Davis, Kevin McBride, Nikki de la Rosa and Andrea Petch).
It has also been noted that there is no Māori office or spokesperson at the Pompallier Diocesan Centre. And therefore it can be asked — who speaks for Catholic Māori in Auckland and Te Tai Tokerau?
In a wider context, two delegates from each of New Zealand’s six dioceses are on Te Rūnanga o te Hāhi Katorika ki Aotearoa, the national body established by the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference to advise the bishops on the pastoral care and evangelisation of Māori, and to foster understanding and communication within the Church on matters pertaining to Māori pastoral care.
But meetings of this body have been reduced to twice a year.
Fr Dennehy said that in Auckland there was a Diocesan Māori Pastoral Council in the 1970s and 1980s, but this no longer meets.
“The [present] Diocesan Pastoral Council has two Māori representatives, one for Auckland and one for Te Tai Tokerau.
“The Tai Tokerau Regional Pastoral Council continues to meet a few times a year. Both Māori and Pākehā attend the meetings but the format has changed from an overnight live-in on a marae, favoured by Māori, to a briefer one-day session, favoured by Pākehā.”
Given the minimal representation of Māori in the Church, the November hui is an opportunity for committed Māori Catholics, young and old, to listen to three talented speakers and work out strategies and plans to move forward.
“Nothing is predetermined,” Fr Dennehy said, “the hui will decide on the next steps.”
He added: “This is the first such hui of Catholic Māori in the diocese. In the past there was a strong body of kaumātua and kuia, many of whom had come to the towns and cities from traditional areas and kept the faith alive. They have mostly passed on and there is a new generation of young and middle-aged Māori in the cities.”
An enrolment brochure is being distributed and it is hoped that numbers for the hui will be finalised by November 14. Those attending the hui can stay overnight on the marae or can live out. The cost to attend is $20.